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Daniel Kahneman's best selling book, Thinking Fast and Slow, explains how the brain manages multiple tasks.
In modern business, we are confronted by complex challenges and often have to multi-task, sometimes working for three different bosses or customers all at the same time. Simplifying the way you manage your tasks frees up brain-cells for the real work at hand.
1. Print out the image above on one A3 or two A4 pages
2. Get some of the small (30x40mm) sticky notes and write the names of your tasks on them as they come to mind. (Don't think hard, the ideas will come on their own throughout the day).
3. Only write 3-5 words max per task (no long descriptions) and only write on task on each post-it.
4. The titles on the print out are self-explanatory. Stick your notes in the relevant box, but make sure you only stick as many notes in the "Current work", "Pipeline" and "Delegate / Relevant to Others" boxes as will fit next to each other, so you can read them all. You can pile as many notes as you want in the other areas.
5. Everytime you complete a task, cross it out (this is important) and add it to the pile in the "Completed" box. This will free up space to move the next task from the "Pipeline" to the "Current work" box and so on.
6. Everytime the "Delegate" box is full, start delegating. You will learn a lot about your management style by observing how often you fill this box.
7. The "Waiting List" can hold a large pile of tasks if need be, but if this is the case, ask yourself whether you might be expecting too much of yourself. Having lots of ideas is great, but maybe you need to make more use of the "Delegation" and "Deleted" boxes?
8. If you are having trouble filling the "Delegation" and "Deleted" boxes, set yourself a stress-free 10 minutes slot each day to go through your "Waiting List" slowly
9. You can pile-up as many sticky-notes as you want in the "Completed" and "Deleted" boxes, but make sure you take 5 minutes at the end of every week to go through these notes one-by-one before throwing them away and re-loading the boxes for next week.